A king who for his crimes was condemned in Hades to stand in water that receded when he tried to drink, and with fruit hanging above him that receded when he reached for it.
A king, son of Zeus, doomed in the lower world to stand in water that always recedes when he tries to drink it and under branches of fruit that always remain just out of reach.
Something of an evasive or retreating nature, something consistently out of reach; a tantalising thing.
Origin of tantalus
From Latin Tantalus, from Ancient Greek Î¤Î±Î½Ï„Î±Î»Î¿Ï‚ (Tantalos, “Tantalus"), a Phrygian king in Greek mythology who was condemned to stand in a pool of water which receded every time he tried to drink, and with overhanging branches of fruit which pulled back whenever he tried to eat.